“Potter!” Lily Evans screamed at her Potions partner as she stared at the yellowish goo in front of her. “Because of you this is completely ruined!”
“You told me to put the stuff in,” James muttered under his breath. He knew he shouldn’t talk back to Lily like that when she was having a fit, but he couldn’t help it. She was being completely unreasonable. She really had told him to pour the lacewing powder into the cauldron; he just had done it at the wrong time was all.
Lily fumed for the rest of the Potions class, trying to get the potion to turn the appropriate color. Finally, when she had just given up on it she slammed her Potions book down on the desk hard…a little too hard actually.
The cauldron started to wobble a bit and all Lily and James could do was stare at it anxiously as if frozen. Please don’t fall. Please, please don’t fall, thought Lily.
But it did. It fell right onto Lily’s uncovered hands too as she reached forward to try and steady the cauldron. She stared at the goop in disbelief.
“That was your fault,” James mumbled again.
“Potter! Do something! You know what this stuff does to you if it comes in contact with your skin don’t you? It makes you—,” but Lily stopped short and opened and closed her mouth as if she were a fish out of water. The sight made James want to laugh, but he knew better than to do so. He also knew exactly what the potion did when it came in contact with one’s skin; it made them mute.
“Oh, don’t worry Miss Evans,” Professor Slughorn said as he waddled over to the pair’s desk. “It’ll wear off after a day.” He sighed as he walked away and James heard him say under his breath, “Knew I shouldn’t have paired those two, knew it.”
James turned to Lily who was looking at him with wide eyes. A whole day? She mouthed to him.
“Don’t worry Evans,” James said as he put his arm around her shoulders which, she quickly pushed off, “I’ll take good care of you today.”
Everyone knew that James had a tiny little crush on Lily Evans, but he certainly didn’t spend all his time chasing just her. Too many girls, too little time was his motto. He knew he’d end up with Lily of course. He liked her far more than any other girl at Hogwarts, that was for sure, and he knew she’d come around eventually. But until then, he wasn’t going to wallow in his lovesickness although, he had to admit, he was rather lovesick about the whole situation.
Recently he decided that it was time for him to become a one woman man, and obviously that one woman was now unable to talk and depended on him to communicate with other people. Oh today was going to be a good one, he could feel it.
So far, Lily had tried to avoid asking for James’s help at all costs. She hadn’t been able to avoid it when she had run into a few of her friends that were obviously very confused about why she couldn’t talk to them, and what she was doing walking around with him. He had explained the situation away easily, and Lily looked as if she wanted to thank him for it. He wondered if she would have if she had been able to speak at the moment.
“Lily,” James said as he escorted her to her next class, “you owe me after this.” She rolled her eyes at him. “Here, I’ll make a deal with you. You go on a date with me, and we’ll call it even.” She punched him hard in the shoulder which he took to mean she disagreed with whole situation.
As he rubbed his shoulder he leaned over and whispered in her ear, “You do owe me, you know that right?” To his surprise, she smiled at him, although it was so faint he could have mistaken it.
The whole morning passed in this fashion with James teasing Lily about not being able to talk for once in her life and her shoving him in response. The two of them had never spent so much time together in their life, and James was having the best day of his life. He knew the real reason why he was helping Lily, and it wasn’t so she’d be in debt to him afterwards. He really just wanted to make sure she made it through the day okay although he’d never admit to it.
When he talked to Sirius about the situation at lunch he laughed it off like it was a joke as Lily stood by looking hostile, but afterwards he really felt bad about it and stopped making jokes about Lily’s talkative personality. Instead he talked to her about other things like the weather, his classes, and what he liked best about being at Hogwarts. It was nice to talk to someone who truly only wanted to listen. Granted, it was the only thing Lily could do, but she still actually looked interested in what he had to say.
He took her out by the lake mid-afternoon because he could tell she was getting a bit annoyed by him constantly having to explain her situation to everyone who asked. As they sat by the lake, James tossed flat stones across the surface of the water, and Lily smiled every time one of them skipped. He would have stopped throwing the stones a long time ago, but he liked watching her smile so he kept going.
Lily took a bit of spare parchment out of her tote bag and wrote swiftly across it. She tossed the paper to James and looked the other way as he read it. This is nice, he read.
“It is,” he agreed out loud, and he was rewarded with another precious smile. “But you still owe me. Don’t think that gets you out of it.” Lily’s smile faltered a bit at that. James couldn’t help it. He was still a prankster at heart.
When James walked her back to the Common Room so she could study and do her homework, she stopped short in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady. She looked like she wanted to say something, but then remembered she couldn’t speak and closed her mouth. It was so cute, James couldn’t help but laugh. She turned to leave, obviously offended.
“Wait,” he grabbed her arm, and she spun around to face him. He reached down to touch her brilliant red hair. “You don’t really owe me anything Lily. I only helped you because well, I like you. A lot.” He smiled a bit. “I figured this was the best time to tell you that because you can’t say you don’t like me back.” Lily shook her head, but James said, “It’s okay. I know you don’t.”
She looked sadly at him and walked through the portrait hole. James watched her turn into the Common Room before walking in himself. He sighed not sure at all if he should have told Lily what he had.
The next morning James walked to Potions class slowly unwilling to face Lily just yet. He hadn’t seen her at breakfast that morning and was nervous about how she would react to him telling her he liked her now that she could speak her mind. He was sure she’d have a lot to say on the subject, and James didn’t know if he was ready to hear it.
When he arrived at Potions Lily was waiting for him.
“James,” she said. He was a little surprised to hear her call him by his first name. “I want to thank you for helping me yesterday. Couldn’t have made it through without you.”
“It’s no problem, really,” James shrugged.
“It really is though,” Lily said slowly as if unsure of what she wanted to say, “and I do owe you James. I thought about it last night, about how I could repay you.”
“Lily you don’t –,” but James was cut short by Lily’s lips landing on his mid-sentence. It was quick but to James, it was what he had waited for his whole adolescent life.
“That’s the best I could think of,” Lily said, shy for once in her life.
“That was the best idea you’ve ever had I think,” James grinned, and for the second time in her life, Lily was speechless. He put his arm around her shoulders, and this time, she didn’t push it off. “So does this mean I get that date?”
Lily grinned up at him. “What do you think?”
“I think maybe I should mess up our potions more often,” James mused which earned him one more punch from Lily. He laughed at how everything could change in a second, but they were each still the same person they were before. He had a feeling that was what he was going to like about their relationship.
James Potter was finally a one woman man, he thought to himself. And I couldn’t be happier.
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